Achatz in the kitchen at Alinea
When Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, business partners at Alinea (1723 N. Halsted St.; 312-867-0110), drop even a few crumbs of information about their future projects, people become like teenage girls around rock idols. (Case in point: Normally intelligent journalists thought Achatz and Kokonas were opening a bar called Boom.) Well, get ready for unbridled screaming.
Achatz and Kokonas plan to open Next, a restaurant with a concept unlike any we’ve heard of before. Each quarter, the restaurant will create a new menu based on cuisine at a particular time and place in world history. (And if that’s too restrictive, the menu will sometimes be pegged to the future. No word on whether they’ll invent alternate spatial universes as well.) Meals will have five or six courses, and will cost from $40 to $75, much less than a meal at Alinea. Taking a page from professional baseball in recent years, pricing will be variable based on the day and time—that is, late weekday dinner will cost less than prime time on a weekend. Because this system resembles event ticketing more than regular restaurant reservations, they’re calling their bookings “tickets,” and extending the metaphor so that you can buy a subscription, at a discount. Interesting—the last time we were at Alinea, we did notice our server trying to sell us on the idea of coming back every 13 weeks.
The notorious bar concept, it turns out, is called Aviary, and it will be next door to Next. The FAQ describes it like this: “The Aviary is neither a bar nor a lounge exactly. Or perhaps it is a bar without a bar or bartenders. Or a lounge without the attitude of a lounge.” The drinks will come out of a kitchen, along with small plates that pair well. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for the next crumb-drop to get addresses for Next and Aviary.
“We are really excited,” Achatz told us. Grant, we think that makes you the least excited of everyone.
A note to Dish readers:
This will be the last Dish Flash you receive as an e-mail. From here on out, we will publish dining news more frequently at chicagomag.com, but out of respect for the cleanliness of your inbox, we won’t send an e-mail for every post. Check the chicagomag.com homepage, subscribe to the Dish RSS feed, or follow @pennypollack on Twitter to get the latest news instantly. The Wednesday Dish e-newsletter will continue to arrive as usual. The only difference you should notice is the addition of a summary of the blog posts from the previous week. —Penny and Graham